Shane Davis on Volume 2 of Superman: Earth One

Shane Davis on Volume 2 of Superman: Earth One
Superman: Earth One, a modern day retelling of the Man of Steel's mythos, was a far greater success than anyone expected. Currently writer J. Michael Straczynski and artist Shane Davis are working on volume two. Newsarama caught up with the artist on the subject.
What follows are some excerpts from the interview:

NEWSARAMA: Do you think that this reached people outside the regular comics reading audience? Because it seems the format [a graphic novel] may have attracted a whole new audience.

SHANE DAVIS: Well, that's what I hoped for, going into it. I hope that's the case. I know some places, I was signing copies for nurses and doctors and stuff like that, that were wanting it for themselves. And maybe one out of, I don't know, like 10 people were saying, “This is a gift for my son for Christmas,” or something like that. I've seen it a lot at the Barnes and Nobles and other bookstores, so that's a different audience from regular Superman comics. People are ordering pretty heavy on it, and that's great. How that sustains, especially with more graphic novels continuing, remains to be seen. I really hope it finds its home with the newer audience, because that's really who I wanted to reach.

That was my goal: to reach new readers. I wanted to try to do the character justice, as far as re-envisioning him for today's audience.

But at the same time, I’m kind of surprised how cynical some older Superman fans were of the book. You would think I took away their normal Superman comic book or something. One of the interesting things that a fan had this big debate with me about was, “Where's Lex Luther?” And I’m like, “Well, Lex Luther isn't going to be in the book.” And he's like, “Well, why not? There's always got to be a Lex Luther.” So it's weird when you see those expected stereotypes come at you before the book's even done or printed. And then I kind of knew those people weren't going to be happy.

NEWSARAMA: Are you working on the second volume already?

SHANE DAVIS: Yes. I’m working on it now. I know where the story's going.

NEWSARAMA: Are you approaching the second volume in a different way? Or is it more of a direct continuation of what you did in the first volume?

SHANE DAVIS: It's weird because it is a direct continuation, but at the same time, it's kind of not, because what I have now is I have the Daily Planet Clark Kent. That's really not what I had in Volume 1. Daily Planet Clark Kent didn't step into being until the very end of the book. So in its way, I kind of have a new character that I’m focusing on, but with a lot of the same supporting cast.

NEWSARAMA: Is there anything you can tell us about the story?

SHANE DAVIS: I can tell you that there is going to be a classic Superman villain. And I've worked on some new designs for that, so I’m kind of stoked about that, and I hope fans will be pleased.

NEWSARAMA: Then to finish up, is there anything you want to tell fans about your work on Superman: Earth One?

SHANE DAVIS: Just thanks, and that I hope they like what I'm doing for the next one. I could never have expected the attention we've gotten for the first volume -- all the press. But the real test of its success, I think, isn't today's news. It's going to be the longevity of it – five years, 10 years from now. That's where I, myself, plan to judge the success of this, is where is it 10 years from now? That's my goal in the graphic novel -- not the quick sale, but the long-term sale. The long-term viability of it. So that's where, being the co-creator – my goals are set on that.

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Superman should not be turned into TWILIGHT!!! : p

777LEEE - 1/25/2011, 7:18 PM
I'm looking at those Earth One graphic novels as a new starting point that has nothing do with the character's mythology as it stands. I have to admit, I enjoyed volume one.
EdGross - 1/25/2011, 7:44 PM
I hate that it's being compared to Twilight. After reading it I can't seem to really picture why people are saying this. I'm seeing Earth 1 as DC's equiviliant of Marvel's Ultimate Universe. Either way this writer/artist team is very good and I enjoyed Superman Earth 1 so much I hope more writers and artists look into the possibilities of Earth 1. Batman Earth 1, Wonder Woman Earth 1, such a cool new prospect for DC!
Deadpool - 1/26/2011, 12:10 AM
I loved Superman: Earth 1 more than I was expecting to. The climax felt like it treaded over a bit of Birthright territory, but only because the action was equally balls out epic on both occasions (and Krypton related- if that whets any potential future readers' appetites).

I love the idea. DC has a new, untapped and restored Multiverse, but while it's cool to know a few of those Earths are made up of epic stories we know (Kingdom Come for instance as Earth...22 I believe?), and some familiar but different all the same (the new Earth 2 as seen in JSA) Earth 1 is virgin territory with the mainstream under the "New Earth" designation.

Superman: Earth 1 has the chronicles of that world off to a fantastic start. I can't wait to read the next volume and eagerly await Batman: Earth 1. And the idea of a Wonder Woman: Earth 1? They need to get on that yesterday!
ShadowVoyd - 1/26/2011, 1:14 AM
Yeah well it smelt like Smallville to me! : p
777LEEE - 1/26/2011, 5:31 AM
Leee, I know you're no fan of Smallville, but this was nothing like it (and I do like Smallville).

ShadowVoyd, I have to agree with you copletely. They did a GREAT job of launching this version of Superman and I'm really looking forward to seeing where it goes. I felt underwhelmed by JMS's "Superman Walks" storyline in the regular Supes title, but he really excelled here.

I'll probably get lynched for this, but if they're planning on rebooting Superman for a modern audience, I actually think that taking THIS kind of approach would work really well. Like Harry Potter, over the course of several films we could see this guy evolve into Superman.
EdGross - 1/26/2011, 5:57 AM
Ed, while I'm not sure a great deal of Superman: Earth 1 would overtly benefit the reboot, there are moments in it that are utter GOLD. Admittedly, this Superman is literally a few years shy of the maturity to understand on his own why Superman couldn't ever wear a mask, the moment where he has the conversation with Martha Kent and she basically lays it out for him is one of the most humanizing, grounding moments of the entire book. Transplanting that part, word for word, but be brilliant.

One of the things people have difficulty relating to is the perceived "boy scout" perfection. Among those is his innate ability to always make the right choice (and among those, his understanding of just how terrifying the idea of someone with his powers hiding behind a mask would be). I think they made a series of mistakes in terms of manufacturing places to inject "human flaws" into the character with Superman Returns.

Things as subtle as Clark, a kid who just wanted to fit in once in his life while growing up in Smallville; searching for some way to contribute to humanity without living under a microscope for the rest of his life as Superman before discovering the dual identity balance (which could tie in nicely with the Birthright style world travel) and the moment I mentioned before can go a long way on screen and allow for both growth and the emergence of the iconic Superman we know.
ShadowVoyd - 1/26/2011, 6:26 AM
Well thought out point -- in fact, you ought to think of starting a page here, and share such ruminations. Just a thought.

I know this seems like a tangent, but in reference to your "boy scout perfection" comment -- have you seen Young Justice? In the second episode/part, there is a wonderful moment where Superman meets his clone and simply doesn't know what to do, so he makes an excuse and flies off. Just a wonderful, humanizing moment, I thought.
EdGross - 1/26/2011, 7:20 AM
I loved that moment. Here's the most powerful hero of that world; he's invulnerable with powers being imagining, and he's utterly violated at that moment. It's not the kid's fault. He can't help being a clone and lord knows, he's not happy about it, but Superman can't help looking at Superboy and seeing just how wrong he might have ever thought he was about being untouchable unless someone was lobbing a glowing green rock at him or waving a magic wand.

Of course, try explaining lofty issues like that to the moody, perpetually pissed off teenage clone-boy with epic trust issues who just got over being a basement dwelling, test tube grown meat puppet. That'll be a fun heart to heart later this season.

And I thank you for the compliment. I've considered it actually. I just haven't found a particular way to focus it. Everyone more or less has a distinct presentation and I've yet to come up with one of my own.
ShadowVoyd - 1/26/2011, 8:04 AM

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